Al Green Discography 320
when we got back to rehearsal we did three songs, two of which were the originals, and the third was a rewrite of a song from the green album. we wrote that in the week right after i finished with pinkerton, and i wanted to get away from it for a few months. i didnt want it to be a pinkerton imitation, and i wasnt really interested in putting a band together and touring, because i felt i had to get away from that feeling of failure before i could even start.
when cuomo was asked about the meaning of the green album, he answered with his trademark frank honesty: id given it up if i could, but i couldnt. and that was it. not only had its release marked a ton of changes in the bands career, but for cuomo, it marked a whole new chapter in his life.
some music fans (and, perhaps ironically, many casual listeners) were already calling this album a stinker, but the rest of the world wasnt quite ready to hear what sounded like an angry diatribe about a bands own personal failures. while the record did very well in terms of sales, it wasnt a typical pop-punk record that was suddenly all over the charts, and it wasnt an album that even made it to the top of the charts. the green album peaked at #4 on the billboard 200, an impressive accomplishment considering that at the time, pop-punk was still a relatively new genre, and it was still just a little over a year since the debut of in your eyes. (rolling stone would peg the pop-punk era as lasting all the way through say it ain’t so and boulevard of broken dreams, until the arrival of good riddance the next year.)
even so, the album was, in retrospect, a masterpiece. cuomo has stated that he always wanted to try the more dance-y, disco-ish style of music (as exemplified by pinkerton), but he also wanted to try having a chorus over the top of a bass line. instead of being a song about the struggle between good and evil, it was a song about human nature. the album also gave cuomo the opportunity to explore the funkier side of his writing. (that rhythm section was stacked.) the green album was a kind of pop-rock r&b confection that was way more inventive and ambitious than anything cuomo had done up until that point. it was also the first time that he took his songs beyond the maudlin, semi-autobiographical fare that he had been writing up until then, and seemed to be doing better.
the green album is a landmark, and it is an essential part of the weezer canon. listening to the album now, it doesnt feel like the band has much more to offer. perhaps that is a good thing, as they had, and to some degree continue to have, a pretty good thing going. its been a tough road for the band, but the last decade has been a banner one, and its only a matter of time until we get another masterpiece from them.
theres a reason it has a reputation for being the worst album of the last decade: its hard to stand up to green if youre not. and it doesnt help that a lot of the album features cuomo singing with a theatrical affect that got him an mtv award while timbaland was recording his landmark late-’90s breakthrough the other side. even if you can work your way around that, theres an obvious problem: the lyrics are just awful. theres an air of resignation to them that extends to cuomo himself, who in his best moments seems to be delivering spoken-word poetry of low-grade rhymes delivered with a mumble. this is probably an appropriate time to pause and admit that the raw materials that inspired those lyrics sound like something youd expect to hear from other artists. green sometimes sounds like a weezer album that couldve been called the blue album if cuomo hadnt taken the lead in placing his vocals over such a stripped-down foundation. but it doesnt help the album that its such a mess. after all, if youre not quite sure whether to praise or condemn cuomo for the lyrics, its probably best to steer clear of the music altogether.